How to snowboard for self-learners

Snowboard instructor snowboarding

Hokkaido Ski Club’s ski/snowboard instructor and guide, Adir Sharon, shares his advice for those who want to try to teach themselves how to snowboard. Always make sure that you are snowboarding in a safe environment with easy access to professional assistance if needed. 

Covid-19 negatively affected the ski industry in Japan last season. Many ski schools closed their operations while others operated at minimal capacity. Most English-speaking snowboard lessons offered in Niseko were private lessons since group lessons require economies of scale to operate. The benefits of private lessons are far more rewarding but the downside: they are not financially feasible for everyone. Hokkaido Ski Club understands this reality. We know that some of you are self-learners and want to give snowboarding a try on your own first. So to help get you started, here are some tips we have compiled on how to snowboard.

Tip 1: Don't be taught by friends or family

Last season we saw an increase in people trying to teach themselves or their friends or family to ski or ride. Results varied to say the least. Rule number one as a sports educator: don’t try teaching a loved one. Most of us don’t do well to constructive criticism coming from an impatient partner or friend who lacks the necessary teaching skills or tools. Nor do we want to be left behind at the top of the slope because they don’t want to keep waiting for you. Just try it yourself and if it just doesn’t work, it is time to book a lesson.

Tip 2: YouTube will only get you so far

Some of you might try using YouTube to learn how to snowboard. While there are many great teaching videos out there, there’s a big difference between watching the ideal way to snowboard and implementing these 5 minute videos on snow. Unsurprisingly, we had an increase of people coming to our private lessons last season after YouTube failed them. Youtube can’t help you stand up. It can’t help hold you while you figure out your individual balance points. It can’t work on your strengths to help build confidence before tackling your weaknesses. And it can’t reassure, support, or cheer you on while building an individualized specific progression to your abilities, age, or physical fitness.

Tip 3: Key points when teaching yourself how to snowboard

Whether you try teaching yourself to snowboard with or without YouTube, here are some key points to remember:

Snowboarder in Niseko
Give yourself time and be patient

1. Patience, patience, patience

We don’t all learn at the same speed. Give yourself time. Don’t compare yourself to others. Getting frustrated or angry at yourself will further block your learning experience.  

2. Don’t give up!

Snowboarding isn’t as easy to learn as skiing. That said, once you reach a certain point (for most this is when they comfortably link turns on green runs), snowboarding becomes much easier then skiing to progress further.

3. Keep YouTube as a reference

Whatever YouTube video you connect to the most, let it be your reference guide only. Focus on one progression at a time. Rewatch the videos on the chairlift. 

4. Athletic stance

Keep your ankles and knees bent and loose at all times. Very rarely do snowboarders ever stand up tall with locked knees.

Snowboard instructor shows how to snowboard
Always look to your direction of travel

5. Look to your direction of travel

Use your head, not your body. Whenever you turn your body, your center of mass (CM), your snowboard will most likely follow that direction regardless of where you are looking.   

6. Use your body to change direction

If you are doing the falling leaf for example, lean towards the tips of your board side to side.  Bend your left knee more than the right knee to move your CM towards the nose or tail of your board. This will move your board towards the left side of the slope and vice versa. If you are linking turns, besides turning your ankles, knees, and hips in the direction of your new turn, make sure you are also leaning towards the nose of the board (bend front leg more than the back leg) when initiating a turn. You don’t want to lean back towards the tail of your board when your board is pointing downhill. This will reduce the pressure on the nose of the board. As a result, your board will pick up speed, build pressure on your back leg, and take longer to change edges if you don’t catch an edge and fall in the process

7. Progressions

Make sure to watch educational videos that focus on progressions.  Don’t rush or skip these progressions – even if they seem boring or easy. They are designed to help you build confidence by breaking down each phase of a turn before putting it all together. This gives your brain time to adjust before applying what you are attempting. Thinking takes longer than the action on the snow. The more things you have to think about, the more likely it will be too late to apply them on the snow.

8. Have fun!

Enjoy the falls and laugh them off. We all started like this!

Always remember to have fun!

9. Take videos of each other

Use them as a learning tool to see what you actually look like in comparison to the YouTube instructor riding in the most ideal way possible – they make it look much easier than real life, don’t they

10. Safety tips

Make yourself fall as soon as you feel out of control! Don’t try to save yourself. The longer you wait, the faster you will go, the harder you will fall. Falling in control prepares your body to take the hit by contracting your muscles together, thus reducing the likelihood of injury. Most important safety tip: Make fists! Why? Because you will fall more times than you can count, especially when self-learning. When you make fists (as if you are going to punch something), it locks up your wrists and reduces snowboarding’s most common injuries – sprained or broken wrists.

Final Thought

We hope these tips will help you to better implement YouTube videos and succeed. However, if you are still having challenges, we are just a phone call away! Don’t wait until the last day or two of your trip. You might regret finally picking it up snowboarding on your last day only to have to leave until your next trip weeks, months, or a year later.

About Adir

Adir Sharon, Hokkaido Ski Club ski and snowboard instructor

Adir Sharon started snowboarding at age 25. He started his snowsports career taking lessons after 3 years of recreational snowboarding, becoming an instructor at a local resort near his mountain home in Colarado, USA.

Adir’s dedication to snowsports has led him to an impressive number of certifications including full certified AASI snowboard instructor and IFSA freeride coach. He has also served as ex-head coach  of a competitive freestyle/freeride team in Colorado.

Adir has been teaching, training, and guiding in Japan since 2017.  He focuses on fun, team building, and lifelong leadership skills while developing the student’s individual unique strengths. 

Adir Sharon, Hokkaido Ski Club ski and snowboard instructor

Adir Sharon started snowboarding at age 25. He started his snowsports career taking lessons after 3 years of recreational snowboarding, becoming an instructor at a local resort near his mountain home in Colarado, USA.

Adir’s dedication to snowsports has led him to an impressive number of certifications including full certified AASI snowboard instructor and IFSA freeride coach. He has also served as ex-head coach  of a competitive freestyle/freeride team in Colorado.

Adir has been teaching, training, and guiding in Japan since 2017.  He focuses on fun, team building, and lifelong leadership skills while developing the student’s individual unique strengths. 

To book a private ski or snowboard lesson with Adir or one of Hokkaido Ski Club’s team, or for more information, please send your enquiry to [email protected].

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email
Hokkaido Ski Club

Hokkaido Ski Club

Hokkaido Ski Club comprises an international team of professional snowsports instructors, coaches and mountain guides. Every member brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise with over 100 years of total shared experience in the international snowsports industry.
Receive the latest news

Subscribe To Our Mailing List

No spam, only notifications about new products and updates.

join the Club family

Subscribe to our mailing list for our latest news and secrets